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Workplace Discrimination and the Importance of Complaint Documentation

By Thomas McKinney

In the State of New Jersey, there are laws in place to guard employees against suffering discriminatory or retaliatory actions in the workplace. While the New Jersey Law Against Discrimination and the New Jersey Conscientious Employee Protection Act both offer such protections, bringing a successful claim pursuant to these laws can be a challenge. It can be critical for you to provide supporting documentation for your claim.

Workplace Discrimination and the Importance of Complaint Documentation

Establishing a paper trail supporting the fact that you have suffered workplace discrimination can be a vital part in successfully bringing a claim. This means that if you ever find that you are being discriminated against in the workplace, you should not hesitate to file a written report to your direct supervisor and to HR. Include details of the discriminatory behavior so that your employer is effectively put on notice that you have been discriminated against based on your protected status. The complaint does not necessarily have to be a documented timeline of every date and time of discriminatory behavior nor does it have to contain a list of witnesses to the harassing behavior, but it should be enough to show your employer that you have good faith and believe you have been unlawfully discriminated against in the workplace.

It is worth emphasizing that your written report connect the purported discriminatory behavior to the fact that it was based on your protected status. This means that the behavior was unlawful because of your race, gender, national origin, or other protected class. Making the explicit connection between the discriminatory actions and your protected status will provide safeguards to you under the New Jersey Law Against Discrimination against any retaliatory actions on your employer’s part should take as a result of filing your written complaint. To help ensure that you are provided the full benefit of such protection, it can be vital that your complaint is explicit on the behavior and why it is discriminatory in nature. Ambiguity has no place in the written complaint. State outright that you believe the conduct is unlawful discrimination based on your protected status.

While you may not need to detail every single incident of discriminatory behavior you have encountered to support your claim, including direct examples that support your good faith belief that you have suffered discrimination in the workplace due to your membership in a protected class is an important element to highlight in your written complaint. Draw those connections between the behavior and your protected status. One effective way of demonstrating that a certain behavioral pattern was discriminatory in nature based on protected status is to make the comparison to how other employees who are treated in the workplace.

Employment Law Attorneys

If you suspect that you have experienced unlawful discrimination in the workplace, begin to document things right away. This can provide critical support for any discrimination claim you bring down the road. In the meantime, discuss your options for taking legal action with the dedicated employment law team at Castronovo & McKinney. Contact us today.

About the Author
Tom McKinney is an experienced NJ Employment Lawyer in all major areas of labor and employment law, including discrimination, harassment, overtime violations, wage and hour claims, sexual harassment, wrongful discharge, Title VII, ADA, ADEA, FMLA, LAD, FLSA, and all other employment law claims. Tom is admitted to practice in the States of New Jersey and New York, United States District Court for the Eastern District of New York, Southern District of New York, District of New Jersey, and United States Court of Appeals for the Third Circuit. Prior to forming the firm, Tom practiced at Gibbons P.C. in Newark, NJ. If you have any questions regarding this article, contact Tom here today.